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UNIT 9 ROLE OF CIVIL SOCLETU

ORGANISATIONS IN POLICY-MAKING

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Structure
9.0 Learning Outcome

9.1 Introduction
9.2

Civil Society Organisations in India


9.2.1 Civil society ,Organisations:Qpology
Role and Functions
9.2.2 Civil Society ~r~anishtions:

9.3 Government-Civil Society Interface

Pavement Dwellers in Mumbai


Tribals in Gujarat
9.3.3 Implementation of Decentralisation of Power in Bangalore
9.3.4 Delhi Government: Bhagidari
9.3.1
9.3.2

9.4 Civjl Society Organisations: Challenges


9.4.1. Barriers in the Government - Civil Society Partnership
9.4.2 Remedial Measured

9.5 Conclusion
9.6 Key Concepts
9.7 .References and Further Reading

9.8 Activities

9.0 LEARNING 0UTCO.ME


After studying this Unit, you should be able to:
e

Understand the importance of civil society organisations in the policy process;


Discuss the typology of civil society organisations with special reference to India;

Bring out the contribution of civil society organisations to policy- making;


Analyse the shengths and weaknesses of civil society organisations; and
Suggest remedial measures for cooperative and hagnonious relationship between the
governmentand civil society organisations.

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9.1 INTRODUCTION
In previous Units , we have described the role of IGRs, Planning Commission, National
Development Council, Prime Minister's Office, andcabinet Secretariat in policy-making. It is
quite apparent that there are certain issues and processes, which k e still not covered by the policy
network of the government. The policy systeinisincomplete without considerationof the need for,
and contribution of civil society groups that work for the welfare and sustenance of the interests of
marginalised strataof society,

Role of Civil Society Orgarzisations in Policy-Making

121

The role of civil society in welfare and development can be traced from the pre-independenceera
to the present day. During the national movement itself, India's civil society began to emerge. This
process was aided by the mobilising efforts associated with the pre-independence elections to
legislative councils. The Constitution of India outlined the functions of its politicii institutions, including
the division of power's between the central and provincial tiers of its federal system. The Constitution
contained the usual liberal protections that make civil society possible, that is, freedom of speech,
assembly, and so forth. The civil society was also shaped by other legal provisions, like the
'reservation' of about one-fifth of parliamentary constituencies for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled
Tribes. In the last few decades, the role of civil society has increased substantially in the field of
policy-making.
The Tenth Five-Year Plan emphasises the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as integral
partners in development. These organisations include voluntary organisations, corporate bodies,
cooperatives and trusts, which are actively involved in economic and social development. The
basic strengths of this sector is being utilised in the policy process, namely their advocacy skills,
organisational skills and above all, closeness to the people. CSOs are considered the sine qua
rlon of efficiency, and effectiveness and 'legitimacy' of the government in a democracy.
This Unit highlights the role and hnctions of CSOs in development planning and policy-making.As
the Tenth Five-Year Plan stresses on the role of these organisations as effective partners in
development, it is imperative to discuss the constraints,which affect the development of government
- civil society relationship. An attempt has been made to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of
civil society organisations and suggest methods to improve their functioning in the policy process in
this Unit.
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9.2 CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATPONS IN INDIA


We have a long history and tradition of civil society engagement in political and social welfare
activism. The voluntary movements grew with the emergence of various religious groups and social
reform movements like the Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Ram KrishnaMission, etc. It is to be
noted that Mahatma Gandhi's movement for national independence was rooted in the ideal of
social reconstruction, self-help and development of poor anduntouchablesthrough voluntary effort.
He gave a new dimension to 'voluntary effort' in India. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs),
such as, the All India Spinners Association (1925), and All India Village Industries Association
(1 934) were active during the freedom struggle. Even Christian missionaries extended relief and
rehabilitation services; and for this they adopted e'ducation a i d health care activities, besides
provision of relief and rehabilitation. The oc6urrence of frequent floods,droughts, famines or other
natural calamities during the 1950s and 1960s prompted massive voluntary action. Under the
influence of the Sarvodaya Movement, youth movements, etc. a fillip was given to voluntary efforts.
The changing socio-econornic milieu has persuaded the Indian NGOs to extend their arenas of
action.
The realisation of development goals, such as, alleviation of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment,
inequality,ignorance,environmentaldegradation and strengtheningof national integration, depend
upon the active participation of people through public-private partnerships. Here lies the importance
of civil society actors, that is, "members of the community" who are committed (without profit for
themselves) to remove @eroot causes of problems. They try to improve the quality of life, especially
of the poor, oppressed, or marginalised strata. They also take up developmental tasks on their
own, and thereby make important contributions to development planning and government
programmes. The CSOs have also emerged as an important instrument of 'decentralisation' and
'de-bureaucratisation' in India. Other popular terms used to describe civil society organisations in

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P~iblicPolicy and Analysis

India are, 'civic institutions', 'social movements', 'non-profit organisations', 'voluntary.


organisations', 'independent advocacy groups', and 'Non-Governmental Organisations' (NGOs).
The NGOs constitute a major part of CSOs, and hence it is impo tant to discuss the role of these
organisations. In the broadest view, the NGOs are described as the third sector involved in
development, in India (vis-a-vis the 1st is the Public Sector, and IInd is the Private Sector).
According to the WorldBank, "NGOs include charitable and religious associations that rnobilise
private funds for development, distributefood and family planning services atid promote comnunity
organisation. They also include independent cooperatives, comnunity associations, water user
societies, women's groups and pastoral associations. Citizen groups that raise awareness and
influence policy are also NGOs". Due to the changing needs and policies they have diversilied their
activities and became more professional in policy-making.As a result, the process of networking
r
with other organisations in the same or similar area is also seen among
the NGOs.
NGOs have a legal status in India, since they register themselves under the Societies Registration
Act of 1860. The large number of NGOs are registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs,
Government of Indiaunder the Foreign ContributionRegulation Act (FCRA),1976. The government
has been planning to enhance the participation of the voluntary sector in development. Therefore,
(in March 2000) to provide a single window on policy matters regarding the voluntary sector, the
as the nodal agency to promote the
Union Government declared the ~1anning'~omrnission
Government-VoluntaryOrganisations Interface. As per areportof the Planning Commission, there
are a total of 16,430 (uptoJune 2005) voluntary organisatiogsin India, of which 6,541 operate in
rural development,2,074 in human resource development,2,944 in social justice andempowennent,
1,343 in health and family welfare, 649 in environment and forests,853 in culture, youth affairs and
sports, 1 37 in labour, 19 in non-cbnientional energy sources, 325 in textiles, 50 in science and
technology, 20 in agriculture, 88 in road transport and highways, 12 in statistics and programme
imple~nentation,
509 in tribal affairs, 62 in small scaleindustries,9 in communicationsand information
technology, 795 in Statesmnion Territories,and 367 in National Bank for Agriculture and Rural
Development (NABARD).
The civil society groups are active participants in planning, and implementation of government
civil society with crosscutting,overlapping memberships
policies and programmes. A highly artic~~late
oflfor stable democratic polity, and aguarantee
of groups, of/and social mobility is thepresuppositio~~
for equality andjustice. They serve as watch-dogs of government programmes,and also as 'policy
advocates', applying their grass-roots knowledgeof development to government priorities and
prbgrammes. Such a perspective assumes that indigenous civil society organisationscan influence
and contribute to government policies and priorities. In the globalisation scenario, civil society
01-ganisationsoperate at the local, regional, national and international levels. Now, we will explain
various types of CSOs in India.

9.2.1 Civil Society ~ r ~ a d s a t i o nTypology


s:
A noticeablefeature of the term civil society is its supposed inter-changeabilityor synonymity with
NGOs. Among the civil society organisations, NGOs constitute amajor part, hence their types
and organisation needs to be studied. The CSOs are identified and classified on the basis of their
work, according to the level at which they operate, and according to the approach which they
undertake to fulfil their goals.
i) On the basis of their work
0

Service-oriented organisations provide services in the areas of health, education, family


planning etc. The programmedetails are'designedby the CSOs, and local citizens are expected
-- -to participate actively in implementation.

Role of Civil Society Organisations in Policy-Making


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123

Charity-oriented organisations are directed towards meeting the basic needs of the poor
or vulnerable sections of society by providing clothes, food, medicine, temporary shelter,
housing etc. These types of CSOs are very useful and undertake relief activities during
disasters, such as, flood, earthquake, tsunami and cyclone.
Emnpowerment-oriented organisations aim to develop an understartding among the
underprivilegedsections of society about the socio-economic or political factors, which affect
their development; and help to strengthen their own potential. power. In this regard, they act
as facilitators and encourage maximum involvementof the local citizens in collectiveconcerns.
Participation-oriented organisations often have a participatory orientation, for example
cooperatives. In the community development project, participation begins with the need
identificationand continues during h e planning and implementation stages.

Civil society organisations concentrate mostly in the metropolis, and some of them are working in
tribal areas. These organisationscan be divided into thefollowing categories:
e

Techno-Managerial Voluntary Agencies accelerate the groups of rural development through


modern management techniques and technology.

Reformist Voluntary Agencies advocatechanges in the social and economic relationships in


the society with in the existing political framework.

Radical Voluntary Agencies organise and try to empower the exploited, and rnobilise them
against the exploiters.

ii) On the basis of Level of Operation

Community based civil society organisations include women's organisations, youtli


. . organisations, religious or educationalorganisations.
State/City level organisations like Chambers of Commerce and Industry, ethnic or
0
ed~~cational
groups, which are involved in specific activities to help the poor.
0

National level orgarzisatl'ons,such as, the Red Cross assist local branches in disaster
management, epidemics, etc.
International level organisations like OXFAM and CARE are involved in fundidg the
local NGOs to implement the,development project themselves.

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9.2.2 Civil Society Org~nisations:Role and Functions


Civil Society Organisations are expected to play an important role in ail conceivable aspects of
development as a planner and implementerof developmentprogrammes;mobiliserof local resources
and initiatives; catalyst, enabler and innovator; builder of self-reliant sustainablesociety; mediator
of people and government; facilitator; supporter and partner of government programmes; agent of
demystifyingtechnology and disseminating information; factor of transformation,conscientisation
and improvement of the poor; and facilitator of development education, training and technical
assistance.Specific roles performed by the civil society organisations are as follows:
i) Supporting the Government plandprojects
CSOs help in selecting the suitable locationsfor innovative government projects, and specify the
strengths and weaknesses.In this regard, they suggest ways to overcome the shortcomings that
government may face at the time of implementation. Thus, CSOs contribute at the time of planning
itself. They act more quickly than a government bureaucracy due to the flexible and democratic
nature'of their organisations. They support and demonstrate the results of pilot projects very
effectively and facilitate clear co~nmnunicationbetween citizens and the govenlment.

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Public Policy and Analysis

ii) Facilitating Communication in the Planning Process

In policy-making,especially at the field level, they have a good feel of the community response and
basic needs of the citizens. To win the confidence of the people (community) they use interpersonal
methods of communication.They provide informationto the public agencies about the lives,attitudes,
culture and capabilities of people in their area. In the context of policy-making,they facilitate
communication at both levels, upward (from citizens to the govemment) and downwards (from
government to citizens). In upward communication, they inform the government about the
requirements, orientations and abilities of local people; and provide feedback for modifying or
changing the existing programmes in consonance with the basic needs of the area. Downward
communication entails creating awareness among people (local) about the government plans,
functions, and available resources. They work in strategic ways, share information,and develop
networking between the other organisations involved in their field.
iii) Mobilising Local Resources and Initiatives for proper Planning
The civil society actors play a crucial role in development especially through mobilisinglocal resources
and initiatives. Their efforts can be seen during the post-disaster phase, especially in planning for
rehabilitation and reconstruction. To uplift the vulnerable people they plan and develop land,building
materials supply centres,and community-basedeconomic enterprises;construct houses; and provide
infrastructure.In addition, they plan, operate and maintain drinking water supply, public &lets and
solid waste collection s$rvices. In certain cases, NGOs become spokespersons for the poor oi
underprivilegedsections of society in safeguarding their interests and protecting their rights by
influencinggovernment agencies.
iv) Advocacy for underprivileged sections
Civil society actors prepde and empower the disadvantaged sections of people to overcome
psychological inhibitions and to raise their voice against atrocities and injustice. This is basically an
advocacy role. They act as 'OmbuJsman' for the affected people, and attempt to influence
government policies and programmes on behalf of the underprivileged sections of society. To
influence the officials or non-officials concernedthey make representations,arrangedemonstrations,
provide focus in the media about cases of the affected citizens so as to bring changes in policy and
practice. They also help the government in monitoring and evaluation of government policies and
programmes.
V)

~ o n i t o r i and
k Evaluation of Government Policies

The CSOs conduct innovative research and activiies in the field of planning for policy-making and
implementationof developmen! programmes, which is documentedand shared with the government
and public. These efforts in monitoring and sharing of results contributeto the effectivefunctioning
of the bureaucracy and political leadership, and encourage people's participation in the policymaking process; thus, they keep a check on policy process. Some NGOs provide technical
assistance, and training for monitoring and evaluation.
vi) Facilitating Development, Education, Training and Technical Assistance
The civil society actors develop programmes, with the help of experts, to provide technical assistance
and training capabilities.They also provide training for volunteers and personnel of other NGOs.

9.3 GOVERNMENT- CIVIL SOCIETY INTERFACE


CSOs have undergone various changes in their role, that is, from charity, relief, and welfare to
development and empowerment. The change in the role of CSOs as a partner with government in

Role of Civil Society Organisations in Policy-Making

125

development and the policy-making process is helpful in planned development. Partnerships between
CSOs and government agencies have contributed to greater effectivenessin the implementation of
welfare and development programmes.
The Union Government recognised the crucial role of NGOs in development during the Sixth
Five-Year Plan. Since then more emphasis has been laid on the promotion of the NGOs in order
to secure people's participation in various development programmes. The creation of the Council
for Advancement of People's Action andRural Technology (CAPART), in 1986, is an example of
this strategy. The Seventh Five-Year Plan emphasised the need to involve voluntary agencies in
various development programmes, especially in the planning and impleinentation of rural
development programmes.
The NGOs and movements, which started for the purpose of protection of environment, such as,
the' 'Chipko Andolan' led by Sunder La1Bahuguna and Narmada Valley Protection Movement,
led by Medha Patker have been quite successful in bringing to the attention of the government the
problems of infringementof the rights of the afYectedpeople. The upsurge in civil society movements
has resulted in bringing about alterationsin policy decisions. For example,most of the movements
opposing indiscriminatelogging for commercial purposes came together to oppose the Draft Forest
Bill of 1982,forcing the government to reconsider its decision and not to bring the Bill in its original
form to Parliamentfor its approval. he incorporatiinof the public demands in policy was reflected
In the National Forest Policy, 1988 and the circular on Joint Forest Management, 1990 that
moved away from focusing on the commercial value of forests towards recognising the nped for
conservation of fores?. Incidentally, the government also recognised the value of participation of
CSOs in forest management. Thus, the environmental movements have been greatly strqngthened
by the able assistance of 'environmental NGOs'. A large number of NGOs are devoted to
environmental protection in India. The India office of international NGOs like WWF-India are
involved in research relating to environmental protection and susta' iable development. In addition,
Indian groups, namely, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), The Energy Resources
Institute (TERI) and The Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) have been contributing to
.nationallevel policy-making.At the grass-roots level, Tarun Bharat Sangh and Tawa Matsa Sangh,
spread out across the country, have been contributing to efforts in strengtheningenvironmental
initiatives'atthe local level.
After the Bhopal Gas Disaster (1984), many NGOs have been instrumental in persuading the
government to accept some of the proposals for minimum compensation and relief measures for
the victims of the tragedy. The NGOs petitioned the Government of India and the World Bank to
work out alternative,designs,and to reassess the impact of the Narmada Valley Project. Due to
their efforts and pressure, the World Bank was persuaded to send its team for reassessment of the
Narmada Valley Project.

The local level NGOs have been involved in organising women to form associations, taking up
self-help programmes, devising strategies for changing the egsting social structures, and raising the
status of women as equal partners in development with men.For example, the All India Women's
Conference, Bhartiya Grarnin National Memorial Trust, Self Employed Women's Association
(SEWA), etc. have been working incessantly for @eupliftment of women. They have influenced
the enactment of a number of new statutes concerning women and in bringing about amendments
to the existing laws relating to women and their rights, such as, ,theAnti-dowry Act, raising of
minimum age for marriages of girls, Anti-Sati Act, the suppression of Immoral Traffic (among
women) Act, etc. They have been instrumental,in ensuring a number of facilities and enhancing
opportunities for educational and health benefits; preventing discrimination against women;
establishment of women's banks, cooperatives; arranging training programmes for women
entrepreneurs'and skilled workers; and in securing equal pay for equal work in a number of

126

Public Policy and Analysis

establishments, A visible impact on various policy issues can be seen due to cooperatives and
federations like the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
In addition to a description of the role of well-known voluntary organisations, we will discuss
briefly the cases pertaining to the ciyil society interventions and contribution in the area of public
policy. Table 9.1 depicts key information about the cases of pavement dwellers in Mumbai, tribals
in Gujarat, decentralisation of power in Bangalore, and the more recent example of Bhagidari
scheme in Delhi.

Table 9.1: Role of Civil Society in Policy~Making

Civil Society
Organisations

Issues

1. Koiising rights
for pavement
dwellers in
Mumbd.
'

2. Priorities,
resource
allocation for
tri bals in Gujarat.

Society for Promotion of


Area Resource Centres
o National Slum Dwellers
Federation
r Mahila Milan
a

DISHA

Strategies used by
tlie CSOs
Put pressure on the
government agency
'through dialogue,
documentation,
meetings, and dharna.
e Empower marginalised
people to deal with the
government agencies.

4. Peoples'
participation in
the policy
process in Delhi.

e
a

e
Residents Welfare
Associations
Trade/Merchant Welfare
~
~
~

Source: Rajesh Tandon and Ranjita Mohanty

3. Decentralisation
of power and
peoples'
participation in
policy
formulation in
Bangalore.

Outcome as a n
impact on policy

Recognition of the
pavement dwellers
in the planning
process of the State
Government.
Inclusion in policy.

Analysis of the state


level budget to bring
out the gaps between
the pro-poor (especially
tribal) policies and
resource allocation
Sharing of information
with citizens, media and
other civil society
organisations

a Widening of

Debates, and
discussions to
persuade and
pressurise he
government to pass
effective legislation

* Legislation passed,

Discussion in
workshops with
officials to prepare a
Report on ~selected
issues.for policymaking

Inclusion of the
decisions of CSOs
in the policymaking. i

discussions in state
legislative assembly
on budget issues
Improved
(budgetary)
planning by the
government,
whereby the gap
between budgeting
and sectoral
planning is bridged.

incorporated the
provisions for
decentralisation of.
power in Bangalore.

Role of Civil Society Ol-gnnisations in Policy-Making

127

9.3.1 Pavement Dwellers in Mumbai


The case of pavement dwellers in Mumbai highlights the fact that previous government policies
~ t acknowledged the presence or the right (citizenship)of pavement
recognised slum-dwellers b ~never
dwellers.However, the issue of right to live as legitimate citizens of the city of Mumbai is central to
the well-being of pavement dwellers.
The important issue for the pavement dwellers is shelter. As their hut~nentsare not located in the
govel-n~nentmaps, they are, therefore, dep~ivedof entitlement benefits, and are not legally recognised.
They do not find a place in the entitlement network for basic facilities, such as, electricity,drinking
water, ration card and banking. In such conditions, the pavement dwellers are subjected to daily
indignities and harassment, which gets magnified when their houses are often declared as illegal
encroachments on the government land and the Municipal Co~porationdeinolishes them.
The state does not recognise them as part of the city's population and treats their helplessness as
encroach~nenton gove~nmentand public land. The pavement dwellers could draw the attention of
the government at the time of elections, and next time when their houses are demolished. They
occupy the scarce urban space, which is demarcated as govern~nentland, and there continuously
growing population poses difficulty and challenge for the city people and the government. As a
result, the municipal corporation authorities demolish their houses. IIIthis condition,the only possible
option for thein is to begin life on another pavement and live there until the government recognise
their presence again by d&~olishin~
their houses.

Civil Society Interventions and Government Policy


The Society for the Promotion of AreaResource Centres (SPARC) has addressed the case of
pavement dwellers in Mumbai. It was set up in 1984 to support women pavement dwellers in their
own empowerment. In this case, Mahila Milan &M) is an outcome of the interventionsof SPARC,
which is an association of women pavement dwellers. It is a membership association of self-help
variety, piimarily engaged in savings and credit for itccess to housing and livelihood on the pavements
of Mumbai. During the short span, the SPARC started working with National Slum Dwellers
Federation (NSDF). The NSDF as an association represented the aspirations and interests of
slum dwellers in different parts of the country. The prima~ycivil society actors involved in the case
of pavement dwellers in Mumbai is a coalition of SPARC, Mahila Milan, and the NSDF. The
SPARCplayed the role of initial empowerment of MahilaMilan both in building their awareness a
well as in enabling them to engage with the Municipal Co~~oration
and other government agencies .
in Mumbai. The SPARC used their researchstrategy to prove that public agencies are not meeting
the basic needs. Identification of the needs and priorities of pavement dwellers in Mumbai added
further strength to this coali.tion in influencing the government policy through a variety of public
education campaigns in the media. They pressurised the govelnlnent and the municipal authorities
through demonstrations and 'dharnas' (public protests), and sustained meetings and dialogues
stl-uctured lo articulate the interests and needs of pavement dwellers in the city of Mumbai. As.a
result, one of the major outcomes of this sustained endeavour was the recognition of the genuine
pavement dwelless in concern of the fonnd policies of urban development and rehabilitation of the
poor in Mumbai.
In 1985, when SPARC initiated its efTorts, the attitude of the governmenl agencies was apathetic
and largely hostile towards the pavement dwellers, which is evident from the act of de~mlitionof
their hutments. Even in this case, the Supreme Coustjudgement recognised the problems faced by
the pqyement dwellers, but did not declare the demolition unreaSonsible,unfair and or unjust (up to
1995).
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128

Public Policy and Analysis

However, SPARC has been mobilising the pavement dwellers with the support of MM and NSDF.
Therefore, the recognition of pavement dwellers in the policy process was the outcome of a
continuous process of interaction and negotiation with the State Government. During this period
there were phases of indifference, hostility and instances of cooperation as well. In this slow
process, the SPARC has successfully acquired government land and begun construction of houses
to rehabilitate 7,000 families. Their success lies in the strength and agenda of civil society actors to
foster sustainable changes in policy decisions. Thus, interventions by civil society organisations
have influenced policy makers to provide shelter to the pavement dwellers. The civil society
.
including the affected peopleinterventionsalso highlight the need forinvolving all t h ~stakeholdersin public policy process, especially on welfare and .,ocicr-cconomicdevelopment. (Tandon and
Ranjita, 2000)

9.3.2 Dibals in Gujarat


The case of budget analysis in Gujarat State reveals the gap between the state's policies towards
,e tribals. The study highlights that budgets are formulated at the provincial
the poor, especi; "
and national levu by the Finance Ministry. In this process, before the budget is passed it is placed
in the respective provincial legislature and Central Parliament for debate and comments. In case of
tribals, besides the discrepancy in the budgetary allocation made towards the development of
poorer sections and the tribals, citizens were not involved in the process at any stage. The entire
policy process is left to the experts and the final budget is passed after it is debated in the legislative
assembly at the provincial level or in parliament at the national level. There is, thus, 110 mechanism
through which the tribals could make the state accountable to make suitable allocation of resources
for their development. In this case, DISHA (CSO) has contributed significantly.

Civil Society Intervention and Government Policy


The alternative budget analysis, prepared especially to set priorities for resource allocation for
tribals in Gujarat, has improved the budgetary planning. This strategy has contributed in bridging
the gap between budgeting and sectoral planning, and created closer link between government
policy objectives and budgetary allocations in the sectors, such as, forestry, education, health,
agricultxre, water, labour, and infrastructuredevelopment. "The debate on budget now goes beyond
mere numbers and trends and covers many policy and developmental issues for the welfare of
citizens."(Tandon and Ranjita, op. cit.)

9.3.3 Implementation of Decentralisation of Power in Bangalore


The state burea~lcracyin Karnataka resisted to pass the state legislation pertaining to devolution in
urban governance. In addition, efforts were made to dilute the 741hConstitutional Amendment's
mandatory provisions into options that the state legislator would decide upon. (Tandon and Ranjita,
Ibid.)

Civil Society Intervention and Government Policy


In this sitiation CIVIC, which is an intermediary associationengaged in research and advocacy
took up the case of enactment of state legislation pertaining to the 74'" amendment. The CIVIC
has followed its usual procedure of organising meetings and holding seminars,both in Bangalore as
well as in moffusil towns of Karnataka to make the citizens aware of the provisions of 74"'
Amendment. Along with experts' opinion submitted as recommendations to the state, the CIVIC
also provided testimony from citizens concerned. The effect of CIVIC'S intervention was "....
incorporationof the provision for formation of ward committees and their citizen oriented functions
in the legislation relating to 741hamendment. The Karnataka Nagarpalika Act was passed in 1996

. *

Role of Civil Society Organisations in Policy-Making

129

and since then, CIVIC has been working towards making the ward committees operational. The
fact that CIVIC is there to monitor the operaionalisation of the Nagar Palika Act and that monitoring
the formation of ward committees and its operation is also an agenda of CIVIC.....''(Tandonand
Ranjita, op. cit.)

9.3.4 Delhi Government: Bhagidari


With the objective of good governance, based on the active participation of citizens and cutting all
the bureaucratic barriers, the Delhi government initiated the concept of Bhagidari,in January
2000, that is, citizen-governmentpartnership. 'Bhagidari' is alneansfor facilitating citywide changes;
utilising processes and principles of multi stakel~olders,
that is, collaboration between citizen groups,
NGOs, and government. It aims to develop joint ownership by the citizens and government of the
change process, through peoples' participation in governance. The Bhagidari scheme basically
involves:
e
o

Discussions on problems and basic issues, thus arriving at solutions on the basis of consensus;
Implementation of solutions; and
Monitoring of the iinplementatio~l
psocess.

Governanceby Partnership
Success stories reveal nominations of 500 water wardens and 1,500 assistant water wardens,
citizen groups, the launch of old age pensions and smart card schemes for senior citizens, and the
appointment of social welfarecommitteesin 600 government aided schools. The citizen-government
partnership scheme, very sed&elydubbed 'bhagidd, bagged the UN Public Service Award for
its attempt at involving the common man in the decision-makingprocess (Hindustan Times, 23
July, 2005). The positivechanges brought about by the Bhagidai scheme have also beenrecognised
by the United Nations. According to the ACCORD survey, Delhites expressed their satisfaction
about Bhadigari scheme. The level of satisfaction has movedup from 33 per cent in the first phase
cent in the second phase (July 2001-October 2002) and
(January 2000 to June 2001) to 55
further up in the third phase. The Bhagidari system is entirely voluntary in nature. In 1998, there
were a small number of Resident Wqlfare Associations (RWAs) willing to be part of this scheme.
By the end of 2005 more than 1,100 citizen groups were involved in civic issues, such as, water,
electricity,cleanliness. The solution; of problems are mooted 'and implemented through collaborative
effort.Ivhis context, the following campaignsneed special mention:
a

'Clean Yamuna'
'No crackers on Diwali'
'Say No to Plastic Bags'

These campaigns got publicity and success due to proper planning by joint efforts. Co-operative
efforts at the planning stage resulted in community participation, and acceptance with regard to
matters like meter reading, water bill collections and payment, switching on /off of street lights,
tenant verification for security, rain water harvesting in school compounds and local areas, cloorto-door collection of gkbage by volunteers, and decrease in power pilferage. 111addition, largescale demolition and sealing drives we1.e the greatest examples of the power the RWAs have begun
to wield. Issues, soch as, illegal cou,
~nsand commercial misuse were first brought to the
,usprotests and Public Interest Litigations (PlLs)
notice of the Delhi &vernrnen t : j
filed by the' RWAs. Their widespreac, ,,.ionstrationsjolted the government bodies to serious
attention. Demonstrations ind sealingsrocked the entire Delhi. In this context, the government had
barely managed to get a one-y?ar
.;urn on these drives from the Supreme Court, when
another PlL and more aggre:
)wed 'hat the residents' groups pursue the matter till

130 .

Public 'Policy and Analysis

end. Thus, finally it was decidedby the Supremecourt,".... only some parts of the anti-demolition
Bill would be irnpIemented. It was also proposed that any civic development activity henceforth
would be carried out after FWA consultation". Now, RWAs are consulted on almost every issue
and they have almost becomeunofficialgoverning bodies in their own rights. (Chowdhury,August
2006)
Following steps are involved in the policy process of the Bhagidari Scheme:
At theJirst stage, the government organiseworkshops for representatives of citizen groups (RWAs
and MTAs) to discuss selected issues with officials of the departments concerned.The departments
or autonomous bodies included the Delhi Jal Board, Delhi Vidyut Board, (subsequently unbundled
into five companies as part of power'sector reforms), the Municipal Corporation of Delhi,
~ e ~ a r t n l eofn tEnvironment and Forests, Delhi Police, New Delhi Municipal Council, Sales Tax
department, Weights and Measures ~e~artmeniand
Industries Department.Each group discusses
and builds consensus on solutions to issue-based problems. In this policy process, each stakeholder's
commitment to hislher role and responsibilities is essential for successful outcomes.

Bhagidari Scheme: Administrative and Financial Arrangements


povides administrative support to this programme. A separate cell, viz, the
The Delhi
B hagidari Cell was created in the Chief Minister's Office and the General AdministrationD e p m e n t
was designated as the nodal department. There is no separate provision for funding the Bhagidari
scheme.

'

Bhagidari scheme: Critical Analysis and Remedial Measures for Development


The scheme is an excellent idea towards better governance,but is criticiseq for lack of a statutory.
base. Bhagidari has given a platform to alarge number of RWAs who want to influence the decisionmaking process in matters that concern them. However, there are no funds, except for rainwater
harvesting and for publication of newsletters by RWAsMTAs (Rs. 500-2000each) on the Bhagidari
scheme. The Scheme attempts to involveonly selected citizens who form the RWA/MTA. In this
regard, an area-based approach is perhaps required for involving more citizens from each area.
RWAsNTAs also complain about lack of effective follow-up in implementation. It is necessary to
tap the expertise of the private sector for specified works, such as, opening up schools and garbage
collection. Involvement of junior and middle level officials should be encouraged as they matter in
servicedelivery; such involvementalso makes them more accountable.Despite a few shortcomings,
the Bhagidari scheme is a worthy model for replication elsewhere.

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATEQNS: CHALLENGES


Neera Chandhoke observes that it is not enough that there be a civil society, or even a civil society
which is independent of the state. In her words, "Civil Society is not an institution, it is rather a
process wherebyf i e inhabitants of the sphere constantly monitor both the state and the monopoly
of power in civil society. Democratic movements have to constantly widen the spaces from where
undemocratic practices can be criticised, and for this purpose they have to exercise both vigilance
and criticality ..........In the process civil society constantly reinvents itself, constantly discovers
new.projects,discusses new enemies, and makes new friends.. . And this is important, for civil
society as an essential pre-condition for democracy? (Neera Chandhoke, 2003).
It is argued, and rightly so, that policy-making and implementation of development plans could get
a boost through activecivil society organisations performing their role effectively and iri collaboration
with the govc~nment.In this context, certain constraints acting as bottlenecks in the relationship.
between the Government and the CSOs have been identified, which are mentioned below:

Role of Civil Society Organisations in Policy-Making

9.4.1 Barriers in the Government


s

Paternalistic attitude of some governmentofficials, and dependence of CSOs on government


aid restrict the degree of the civil society actors' participation in programme/project design.
In addition, major emphasis and concentration of government only on those selected
programmes, just beca~lseaid and assistance is availablefor them, lose their (CSOs) innovative
and enterprisingcharacter.

Government grants make it incumbent on the NGOs to evolve, and adhere to, organisational
rules and procedures.At the same time, the requir~rnents
of organisationalcompliance introduce
elements of bureaucratisation and formalisation that are less responsive to the needs of people.
Thus, they become top-down, non-participatoryand dependent on external and governmental
support.
Bureaucratisation brings hierarchy, thus decision-makingtends to be more centralised, which,
in turn, destroys the cooperative and collegiate nature of civil society.
In cases where NGOs combine development concerns with political and religious objectives,
politicians develop vested interest in and use them for their political gain instead of allowing
them to serve the people. In a political environment,NGOs often fail to contributeor influence
the policy or programmes in an objective manner.
The work of some NGOs may not be as effective as claimed in their reports due to lack of
capacity in the managementof the professionalskills of their staff, or due to lack of accountability
of NGOs to the people at the grassroots.
Many NGO-sponsored projects may have limited self-sustainability as they are not designed
with sufficientconcern for sustainability.
Restricted ways of approach to a problem or area and territorial possessiveness of an NGO
may also reduce cooperation between various agencies.
Unwillingness of civil society actors to engage in a genuine dialogue with government officials
may generates suspicion among civil servants, thereby lirnitihg the organisation's access to
government resources.
The government's passive attitude to fulfil its commitment to improve services, eradicate
discrimination and poverty, shortage of competent staff at local level, corruption, nontransparency, and nepotism may lead to confrontation between the government and civil
society organisations.
Pressure on successful civil society organisations from major donors to receive more funds,
and too much dependence of NGOs on foreign donors may adversely affect their performance.
There may be problems between the government and rzifril society organisations due to the
suspicion that civil society actors are 'guided by a foreign hand'.
The involvement of civil society actors in politics'leads to close affiliation with politicians,
which may undermine their autonomy. In such cases, they cannot freely criticise the government
for wrong policies.

.
cr

e
0

- Civil Society Partnership

The government has various instruments, for good or ill, to influence civil society actors. The nature
of response about the degree of control over them may be non-intervehtionist,or inviting partnership,
co-option or active encouragement in achieving development gods: In this context, for improving
the relationship between the govement and civil society organisations in the fikld of development
and nation-building, certain remedial measures should be adopted to enable proper identification
of problem areas and adoption of appropriatestrategies for resolving them. The focus should be
on building a cooperative relationship between the government and civil society organisations for
developinent of the country. The followingsection presents a check-listof some remedial me'asures.

Public Policy and Analysis

132

9.4.2 Remedial Measures


i) Promoting Good Governance
Formulation of policies that encowagea healthy civil society,and public accountability of govemment
institutioils will result in joint effortsfor effectivepolicy-making. For this purpose, review the w&ng
of the 'Mother NGO' concept, and based on that, consider alternative modalities of funding
NGOs in order to enhance transparency and accountabilityin their functioning. Even to ensure that
funds from public/private/external sources have reached the NGOs, appropriate policies and
instruments have to be evolved. Such measures will help to develop CSOs confidence in governance.
ii) Policy-MakingProcess
Develop core competencies and professionalism in civil society organisations for their effective
contribution to policy-making. Proper provisions for providing information to civil society
~~ganisations,
such as, timely dissemination of information to their constituerits, advance intimation
to leaders (CSOs) to cooperate with official agencies, bodies, etc. would help to improve the
involvement of NGOs in planning and policy-making. In this sphere, it is necessary to build
appropriate databases; carry out research and documentationg and disseminate innovative
development models.
Special efforts should be made at the grassroots level to develop and promote a symbiosis between
CSOs and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs): Hence, they can complement each other and avoid
conflict. Suitable representation should be provided to the actors of CSOs in the planning.cornmittees
of the P H s to enable them to be active partners in policy-making.Similarly, enthusiasm should be
generated among the political leaders and administrators to accept the CSOs as joint partners in
developmentplanning.
i

iii) Regulations

Design regulations to help the civi society organisations in developing sound management practices,
and eliminating restrictive laws and procedures. Thus, broaden the base and scope of voluntarism
by encouraging its growth in states and regions where they are weak.
iv) Effective Policy/Programme Implementation
NGOs are expected to provide a supplementary or complementary role to goveriment in the
effectiveimplementation of policies.Sometimes, the NGOs could perform better than the government
because of their involvement, infonnal approach and proximity to the local people.
v) Government Support
The government provides funds, projects, and trainingopportunities to provide encouragement to
the civil society actors; and to develop their skills and contribute to development. While doing this,
their autonomy and independence should be safeguarded.
vi) Avoidance of Bias
Civil Society actors should be motivated and encouraged to reduce sectoral gaps and avoid activities
of religious or ethnic bias. A high degree of professionalism m o n g NGO personnel can prevent
s~ch'bias.Training programmes too should make a specialfocuson this. ,
vii) ~ ~ m, ~, ci& unn t a~b i l i t ~

JVhen1egal restrictions are minimal thk CSOs are tempted to indulge in unhealthy and corrupt

133

Role of Civil Society Orgalzisations in Policy-Making

activities. In this context, as an example, it is to be noted that recently the Centre has blacklisted 69
(NGOs) in Tripura. (Ali, March 2006). To overcome such a possibility, it is necessary to enforce
procedures of accountability of civil society actors with regard to accountability to: i) the members;
ii) the government; and iii) society in general.
However, while finalisingthe schemes for civil society organisations,following considerations have
to be kept in mind:
e
e

Long-term support at least for a period of five years may be desirable.


Fast-tracking of proposals fro111established NCOs should be adopted.
Involvement of nodal agencies is a useful instrument for providing better coordination, and
technical and managerial support to field level CSOs.
Programmnes/schemesshould be maximally ilexible, which encourage innovative, need-based,
demand-driven and.location-specificprojects with budgetary/task norms serving as guidelines.
Sustainability of projects should be built into the government schemes.
Monitoring and evaluationshould be part of the project design with earmarking of funds.
Adopt a simplified profoma for applications from NGOs for seeking grant-in-aid.
'

e
o
e

Thus, an enabling environment will generate greater involvement in the civil society actors, and to
become active partners with the government in the planning and policy process.

Recent Development
The national policy (2006)on voluntary organisationshas proposed tax rebates. According to the
draft policy worked out by the Planning Commission. Tax incentives play a positive role in the
process. As stocks and shares have become a significant form of wealth, therefore in order to
encourage transfer of shares and stock options to voluntary organisations, the government will
offer tax rebates for this form of donation.This can be a significant source of funds for NGOs and
enables them to become fiscally independent.In this context, to ensure that incentives are not
misused the Commission has proposed the introduction of more stringent administrative and penal
procedures (Sinha, May, 2006). The proposal of the Planning Comlnission awaits approval ofthe
Union Government.

CONCLUSION
The complex nature of India's civil society organisations has spurred debates about its regional
variations, relations with the state, and capacity to improve governance. The Tenth Five-Year Plan
emphasises the vital and decisive role of the civil society organisations in bringing about pIanned
development along with public and private partners. Tlie Indian civil society organisationschallenge
conventional analytical categories separating modern and traditional identities.

5.

This Unit has presented the idea that the government should accommodateand accept civil society
organisations as legitimate and dynamic institutions.The government can utilise the services of
CSOs through their active participation and cooperation in planning, policy-making, implementation
of programmes, monitoring, and evaluation of plans andprogrammes. The NGOs have been
trying to sensitise, organise, and mobilise people at local, national and international levels. Their
irngact can be seen in bringing the attention of the government to various issues of development,
suci as, peoples' participation, equity, gender, empowerment, health, removal of poverty,
unemployment, illiteracy and sustenanceof goal fulfilment. The government should appreciate the
role of civil society organisationsin providing better delivery facilities, cost effectiveness, field
testing facilities for new technologies, training input~,TeedMck,etc. In some cases, the foreign

Public Policy and Analysis

134

.links of some NGOs arid their hidden goals are suspected. A few organisations are accused of
adopting c ~ r r u ~ ~ ~ r a c and
t i c are
e s blacklisted. However, it is necessary that the civil society
actors should rise above such unwelcome practices, and protect their autonomy and independence
from the possibility of bureaucratic control.

9.6 KEY CONCEPTS


Bhagidari

It means 'collaborative partnership' between citizens and administration in


policy-makingand for the effective delivery of services. In practice,Bhagidari
is about understandingeach other's constraints, appreciating the other side's
strengths and then arriving at solutions to problems through consensus.
Bhagidari scheme pionee ed by the Delhi government, envisages collaboration
between citizens and the city administration for the improvement of civic
services.

DISHA

It is a non-governmental organisation, which is working among the tribals


and forest workers. It matches the Tribal Sub-Plan-with financial allocations
made in the budget, analyse the discrepancies and then take the action.

SPARC

It is an intermediary civil society for the promotion of AreaResource Centres


in the Mumbai. The SPARC has addressed the case of pavement dwellers.
It was set up in 1984 to support women pavement dwellers, especially in
their own empowerment.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING


Ali, Syed Sajjad, "63 Tripura NGOs on blacklist", Hindustan Times, March 23,2006, New
Delhi.
Argyriades, Demetrios, "Good Governance, Professionalism, Ethics and Responsibility",
International Review of Administrative Sciences, 72(2), 2005.
r
Bava, Noorjahan, 1997, Non-Governmental Organisatiorz in Development Theory and
Practice, Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi.
Chandhoke, N. 2003, "The 'Civil' and the 'Political' in Civil Society", Carolyn M.Elliott (Ed.)
Civil Society and Democl-acy A Reader, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
Chandra, Snehlata, 2001, Nun-Governmental Orgarzisations-Structure, Relevance and
Functions, Kanishka Publishers, New DeIhi.
Chowdhuiy, Anirban, "From RWAs to local self-governingbodies", Hindustan Times, New Delhi,
August 1 G;2006.
Government of India, 2003, Planning Commission, Tenth Five-YearPlan-2002-2007, Academic
Foundation, New Delhi.
Kabir, A.K.M. Enayet, "How NGOs Serve the Disadvantaged: Some Pertinent Questions",
at http://www.global policy.org/ngos/disadv.htrn
Mathur, Hari Mohan (Ed.), 2006, Managing Resettlement in India, Approaches, Issues,
Experiences, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
Nandini, Durgesn, 2003, "Role of Non-GovernmentalOrganisations in Development Planning",

. SC-2 Development Planning andAdministration, CommonwealthExecutive Master of Public


Administration,IGNOU, New Delhi,

Role of Civil Society Organisations in Policy-Making

135

Nandini, Durgesh, 2005, Relationship between Political Leaders and Administrators, Uppal
Publishing House, New Delhi.

"Revitalising the Role of Civil Societies in Sustainable Developnient", UNDP,


at http://www. scdp.01-g.np/pub/bltns/b3p3.htm
Y

'

Sinha, Gunjan Pradhan, "Plan panel for tax sops for NGOs", The Economic Times, May 17,
2006.
Tandon,Rajesh and Ranjita Mohanty, June 2000, "Civil Society and Governance: A Research
Study in India", Part of a Global Cornparatibe Research Study on Civil Society and Governance
Co-ordinated by IDS, Sussex, U.K. at www.eldis.org/static/doc10882.htm-29k.

Website:http://www.planning comnzission.nic.in

1) Identify and select a civil society organisation in India, and highlight its contribution to public
policy-making.
\

2)

Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of civil society organisations in 1India.What measures
would you suggest for improving the role of civil society organisations in palicy-m'aking?

3)

What are the implications when civil society organisations fi~nctionwithin the terrain charted
out by the government?Explain.

4) Visit an area where development is affected due to corrupt officials and non-officials. Based
on your observations, outline the constraints that affect the civil society's capacity to curb
corruption.